- High school seniors in D.C. Public Schools will now receive a personalized “Guide to Graduation, College, and Career” twice a year, with the intention of improving attendance and graduation rates, keeping students and families more informed about progress toward graduation, and providing more individualized information about potential college and career options, NPR reports.
- The guides — which will be published in English, Spanish and Amharic — are a seven-page report that includes an unofficial transcript, information tracking the student’s progress toward graduation and noting deficiencies in that progress, information about college choices and the likelihood of acceptance into these colleges based on entrance test scores and GPA, and personalized career options based on available data and student career interests gathered from personal surveys.
- Some other school districts — including Chicago Public Schools and Long Beach Unified School District in California — have already begun using similar guides, and at least one will soon begin using them as early as middle school. The guides are also useful in ensuring equity and creating a consistent standard quality of counseling and support for all students, Robert Tagorda, director of Equity, Access, and College & Career Readiness in Long Beach, told NPR.
While preparing students for the future is the main goal of education, most students don’t feel prepared for college and careers when they graduate. Guidance counselors are supposed to help guide students along these pathways, but there are often not enough counselors at a school to serve the needs of all students equally and adequately.
Progress guides such as this can be a helpful tool for students and their families, providing a quick summary for guidance counselors when they do have an opportunity to meet with students. With access to more technology and data, these reports should be fairly easy for schools to produce. However, the senior year seems a little late to begin them. Earlier interventions and information can help students make more informed decisions about classes and activities they need to include in the future, in addition to helping prevent them from dropping out.
Though guides such as this do provide valuable information and a minimum level of standardized guidance for students, they are often not enough for those who need more support or who are at-risk of dropping out. For these students, it is important that they connect with mentors who can guide them and help them find the resources they need to graduate, decide on a path to the future, and connect with the resources they need to accomplish this goal. Some organizations, such as Communities In Schools, have experience in providing these connections. But community members who serve in the field a student is interested in pursuing can also provide valuable insight at career fairs, through mentorship or even through internship opportunities.
There are other ways to promote higher graduation rates, as well. After-school programs often help keep a student focused on graduation and minimize the exposure to elements in their lives that may distract them from their goals. Helping students find alternatives to recovering lost credits can also make graduation possible for students who have fallen behind as long as these methods are not misused. For many students who drop out, loss of hope and support are prime reasons for their decision. Providing that hope and support can help keep them on track.